ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG/WFLA) — A suspect is in custody after an attempted kidnapping in the Florida Panhandle, deputies say.
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office started investigating the incident Tuesday after deputies say a white Dodge Journey pulled up to an 11-year-old girl waiting at a bus stop in West Pensacola around 7 a.m. Surveillance cameras caught a white Dodge Journey driving past her several times.
Investigators say a man eventually got out of the SUV, reportedly armed with a knife. The suspect grabbed the little girl and a struggle ensued, according to the sheriff’s office.
Video shared by deputies shows the girl dropping her bag as she struggles with the man, who picks her up at one point and attempts to carry her away.
The girl was able to fight and break free from the suspect’s grip, deputies say. She is safe with her family.
According to the sheriff’s office, the suspect got back into his SUV after the failed kidnapping and took off.
The man, later identified as Jared Paul Stanga, was captured Tuesday evening. Stanga was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13, assault and battery.
Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said the man had approached the girl once before, about two weeks ago, as she was waiting at a bus stop. The man spoke Spanish, and the girl did not understand everything he said, but Simmons said the incident made her uncomfortable.
“She seems to be doing well,” Simmons said Tuesday. “I’m not so sure if she actually comprehends exactly what could have happened. She understands what happened. She fought like a trooper, and one of these days I’m going to give her an award for fighting, and fighting, and fighting.”